Livestock and farm machinery theft is on the rise in Lancashire but a new initiative launched by the NFU and the police aims to make the county a no-go area for thieves.
Many supposed small scale crimes from farms, where the odd piece of machinery is stolen, often goes unreported by farmers and the police want this to change so that they are able to build up a comprehensive picture of rural crime in the county.
This, they hope, will uncover the true scale of the problem. They also want farmers to be their eyes and ears in the fields, exchanging information with each other on social media sites.
Farmers, who add their names to a new database, will take part in this activity and have also agreed to accompany the police at crime scenes where a livestock ‘expert’ is essential.
As part of this alliance between the farmers and police, police officers who voluntarily take on extra wildlife duties have been given a crash course in handling sheep by Lancaster based hill farmer John Taylor – just in case they find themselves having to move sheep to a safe location without any help.
Mr Taylor and the police have also worked together on creating evidence tags for sheep which are suspected to be stolen.
He said: “If it was a tractor that had been stolen, it would be locked away with a serial number. You cannot do that with livestock which is why we have created these evidence tags.”
The NFU Mutual estimates that more than 90,000 sheep, cattle and pigs could have been stolen in the UK during 2013 and that in total rustling could have cost UK farmers over £6.5m.
In Lancashire, the cost of rural theft rose 38 per cent to an estimated £1.8m.
Farmers who want to add their names to the database, should contact NFU Lancashire County Adviser Adam Briggs on 01695 554912.